Balancing your hormones naturally through diet + lifestyle modification

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WHAT ARE HORMONES?

Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers, or signalers. They travel throughout the bloodstream to tissues and organs where they communicate/facilitate certain tasks. They can affect many different processes including: growth + development, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, mood, etc. They do a lot! Endocrine glands, which include the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenals and pancreas, make hormones. Hormones are very powerful, meaning that big changes can happen in the body with little changes in hormone balance. And too much or too little of a hormone can cause serious health complications because of all of the duties they’re responsible for. The good and bad news is that diet can play a major role in the overall hormone balance. Certain foods support hormone health/balance while other foods can do the opposite and promote hormone imbalance. In general, a clean whole-food based diet will support hormonal health as opposed to a diet high in refined + processed foods.

Not sure whether or not you may have hormonal imbalance? Take a look at some of the symptoms.

SYMPTOMS OF HORMONE IMBALANCE

Fatigue

Poor digestion Weight gain Inability to lose weight

Skin issues

Trouble sleeping PMS

Infertility

PCOS Endometriosis Mood swings

Brain fog


HORMONE PRODUCTION

Hormones are produced using healthy fats + cholesterol. Without these important dietary factors, the body does not have the necessary building blocks to produce hormones, or produce them properly. So a diet that includes plenty of healthy fats along with other high quality whole foods is essential for hormonal health. On the other hand, a low-qualtiy diet full of processed foods is detrimental. One reason is because toxins + chemicals from low-quality foods or environmental factors can mimic the building blocks that make up hormones, which essentially leads to improperly built hormones that are not able to do their unique and crucial job.

Now that we know a little bit more about the importance of hormones and hormone balance, let’s take a look at some diet + lifestyle factors that can lead you to better health.


DIET + LIFESTYLE FACTORS TO ENHANCE HORMONAL HEALTH

[1] decrease/avoid processed omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.

Processed polyunsaturated fats are highly unstable and oxidize easily in the body, causing inflammation and other disruptions. They are found abundantly in processed foods. Just take a look at the package of chips, cookies or roasted nuts in your cupboard and you’ll see these inflammatory oils cropping up everywhere.

Limit the following fats:

Vegetable oil

Canola oil Soybean oil

Sunflower/safflower oil

Margarine

Corn oil Cottonseed oil Processed meats + other processed food in general

[2] increase healthy fats, including omega-3 fats + saturated fats.

Because hormones are created using healthy fats, we need to make sure we are eating enough of them. If you can include a source of healthy fat with each meal, you’re well on your way. Too many people are avoiding fats because they think fat is the culprit behind weight gain and poor health. While unhealthy, inflammatory fats may contribute to poor health, healthy fats are essential + health-promoting, so please stop avoiding fat.

The healthy fats include:

Coconut/coconut oil

Organic, grass-fed butter

Organic, pastured eggs

Avocado

Wild-caught fish

Nut + seed butters

Olive oil

Raw nuts + seeds

[3] limit caffeine intake [and avoid energy drinks, period!]

If you rely on several cups of coffee in the morning to get you going, it’s time to rethink that habit. And especially if you add processed coffee creamers and added sugar. Too much caffeine intake can lead to overworked adrenals, which can promote a whole host of health problems. Your adrenals are hormone producing glands, so overworking them means improper functioning which mean changes in hormone balance. You don’t have to completely give up the coffee habit, but cutting down can make a big difference. Try decaf herbal teas instead, or even green tea which has less caffeine than coffee but provides many health benefits. And then there’s energy drinks which are all wrong. They contain tons of artificial ingredients, colors, flavors, sugars, etc. in addition to unhealthy amounts of caffeine and stimulants. So please, if you’re truly invested in your health, give up the energy drinks.


[4] exercise smarter.

Overdoing it on cardio or long-distance, long-duration workouts can actually be counterproductive for hormones. Killing yourself on the treadmill or elliptical for an hour+ of cardio may not be worth it. First, it’s not enjoyable; and second, it can actually lead to increased stress on the body. Lighter exercises like walking, swimming, yoga, or shorter bouts of high intensity interval training [HIIT] or strength training sessions are probably better options. Once hormone balance is restored, longer cardio sessions may work well for you; but still the benefits of lighter exercise and HIIT may be more effective overall for general health and even weight loss.


[5] eat clean + avoid toxins.

Toxins can be found in pesticides-ridden foods [click here to see the clean fifteen/dirty dozen list for choosing produce], tap water, conventionally-raised, non-organic animal products [meat, dairy, eggs, poultry] and genetically modified foods [GMOs]. Toxins can disrupt natural hormone signaling as well as the production of hormones. Eating clean means providing the body with as much natural, nutrient-dense foods as possible and avoiding the junk: added sugar, processed foods, refined grains, fast food, etc. And it’s important to note that while unhealthy foods can contain toxins, so can many personal care products + cleaning supplies. So finding more natural options may be beneficial for you.


[6] eat adequate, high quality protein.

Protein does a lot more than just build muscle. In fact, hormones, antibodies, and other chemical messengers in the body are all made up of protein, making it essential to life. Adequate “clean” protein intake keeps cravings at bay, satisfies + nourishes the body, and helps balance hormones. I typically recommend 20-30 grams of protein per meal [or 60-80 grams per day], but this number is highly variable depending on gender, weight, activity level, healthy status, etc.

Eat plenty of these high quality protein sources:

Organic, grass-fed beef

Organic poultry

Organic, pastured eggs

Wild-caught fish

Raw nuts + seeds; Nut + seed butters

Beans + lentils


[7] get enough high quality zzz’s.

Lack of sleep can single-handedly lead to serious hormonal disruption. Staying up too late or not getting quality sleep can disregulate many critical hormones. Getting to bed early, shutting off electronics/TV and using blackout shades are just a few ways to enhance sleep. Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night is recommended.


[8] stress less.

Stress has a detrimental effect on overall health, especially hormonal health. Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” can easily become too high or too low when we aren’t able to handle daily stress [or when we don’t get enough sleep]. Stress can come from the diet [eating foods high in sugar, chemicals, etc.], work, home, environmental factors, etc. And for so many of us, our day-to-day life has even become too stressful to handle. So now more than ever it’s critical that you establish a routine to manage stress before it gets out of control.

Some options include:

Meditation

Being able to say No Slowing down + being present Taking a vacation

Making a to-do list

Getting to bed early Prioritizing tasks Practicing self care [massage, manicure]

[9] utilize the benefits of whole food supplementation.

Whole food supplements can be important to fill in any nutritional gaps, especially regarding hormonal health. While many people can get adequate vitamins + minerals from diet alone, others need some assistance whether they are new to a whole-food based diet or their requirements are higher than what food provides.

Some specific supplements that are helpful for hormone support include:

Magnesium

Vitamin D

Omega-3 Fish Oil


What did you think about this information? Have any questions or comments? Need help? I counsel clients individually in person or online. Send me an email to angela@nutritiouslyrooted.com or check out the nutrition services I offer and let’s get started!

 

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Angela Freed

2 Comments

  1. Hello angela, i have been checking out your blog posts. Full of great information. I had 8 of the off the symptons list. I will be taking your tips for forsure to better my lifestyle 🙂

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